THE BLOG

Bye Bye Boozy Britain As No Alcohol Bars Show Drinking May Finally Be Going Out of Fashion

22/09/2016 12:14
Wavebreakmedia Ltd via Getty Images

In Britain we have reached the stage in our relationship with booze best summed up as can't live with it and unable to live without it.

As Theresa May's Government back peddles on tackling cheap booze and easy licensing laws, a new type of drinker may force a rethink by venue managers and drinks companies anyway.

Liverpool, never knowingly sober on a Saturday night, now has a popular place called the Brink Bar which offers non-alcoholic cocktails, comedy nights and advice for people who want to shun alcohol.

Similar ventures have been popping up across the country, in London, Manchester, Aberdeen and Sobar in Nottingham, established with help of lottery funding.
Steve Youdell, from Double Impact, the charity behind Nottingham dry pub Sobar, said:

"The idea has been to create a space in the in the city that is alcohol-free"

As news broke that youth seeking a trendy night out are happily paying to stay sober, on September 15, the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Children of Alcoholics, met in the House of Commons. The aim of the APPG is to champion the cause of children of hazardous drinkers.

Finally, after decades of evidence of the harm to the family structure and safety of children as a result of habitual parental drinking, alcohol, is being viewed (by some) in politics with the same caution as tobacco.

The long-term presence of alcohol in the home indicates potentially calamitous, long term effects, which should be considered at least as harmful to the well being of the child as secondary smoke inhalation.

As the child of alcoholic parents, it was par for the cause that I would be drawn to the stuff myself, at toxic levels, at an early age. On my sixteenth birthday, I was taken to the pub by a parent. There, a school friend and I were brought high strength cider by adults until we staggered home alone to fill my mum's bedroom sink with chunky vomit.

A not-so-unusual, coming-of-age, in a society that marks every occasion with dangerous amounts of potent liquid often obliterating, in the process, the memories of the very thing we set out to toast

In November 2015, MP Liam Byrne tabled a motion for Parliament to recognise that alcohol harm costs the UK £21 billion a year. That alcohol misuse is now Britain's third biggest health problem after smoking and obesity and to recognise that children of hazardous drinkers suffer a range of mental health issues, are more likely to consider suicide, are more prone to eating disorders and are far more likely than most to become alcoholics themselves.

According to the Centre For Public Health (CPH), the biggest contributors to alcohol-attributable deaths are cancers, digestive diseases and injuries.
The Government was called upon to offer a strategy to help children of alcoholics, specifying concrete steps for public agencies to identify children of alcoholics in order to connect them with sources of support. It received a mere 32 signatories.

Yet, according to the 2013/14 Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), there were 1,327,000 violent incidents reported nationwide. 53 per cent of those involved alcohol. The cost to the taxpayer of this national rampage is an estimated £11bn, per year. That is one serious fiscal hangover.

The deeper we look into alcohol and its effects the more disturbing the picture. 36 per cent of domestic violence incidents still involve booze. An estimated, 2.6m homes are currently suffering a state of turmoil as a result of parental drinking.

Kim Woodburn the TV presenter and expert cleaner best known for co-presenting the British television programme, 'How Clean Is Your House?' told of her early years in the 1950's with an alcoholic mother who 'would beat me with brooms and brushes.'

At 72 years old, she admits that hearing a mother tell a child "I love you' still has the power to leave her bereft. As the UK hurtles towards an abyss in which every person may know of a family member who has experienced drinking issues, it is telling that parliamentary group co-chairs MP Liam and Caroline Flint MP, are themselves, children of alcoholic parents.

Experts from the world of health and family support, present disturbing evidence related to extreme drinking habits. All in the hope, our government may eventually be persuaded to shake off the shackles of the powerful drinks lobby reigning in effective policy making.

Meanwhile, the Welsh Assembly tried to introduce a minimum alcohol unit price of 50p earlier this year.

A litre of 'White Cider' (popular with teenagers and sold in large volume in poor areas) can currently be found in high street off licenses for just £3.50. This bottle contains the alcohol equivalent of 22 shots of vodka. The equivalent of seven shots of vodka for one pound, or around 17p per unit of alcohol.

Yet, in July, Whitehall blocked the Welsh Assemblies plans to raise the minimum unit price. Why? The excuse presented was such a move would amount to devolving further powers related to policing and public health to the Welsh Assembly. A convenient fudge.

This delay in government measures will allow the death toll to rise especially in socially deprived areas, where the easy availability and low price of revenue-making, alcohol products continues to impact lives, damage families and wreck the nation's health.
Just the kind of bargain product pricing, austerity-hit Britain cannot afford.

2016-09-21-1474466330-472031-ScreenShot20160921at14.58.09.png

As a patron of the campaigning charity, National Associaton of Children of Alcoholics (NACOA), I know very well the appalling state of households blighted by alcohol addiction. The charities helpline for children has received 300,000 calls. Many featuring the same question, 'How can I get Mum/Dad to drink less?'

It is time for a break up no matter how acrimonious it may be.

The Lancet Commission on Liver Disease in the UK found that between 1980 and 2013, deaths increased by four times, mainly as a result of alcohol consumption.
With 50% of English local authorities seeing a rise in hospital admissions for alcohol-related illness.
2016-09-21-1474466383-2993129-ScreenShot20160921at13.59.51.png

Each year there are more than a million hospital admissions linked to alcohol consumption, while in 2012 alcohol-related deaths reached 6,490.

The cost to health, well-being, future prospects of children affected, in all areas of their lives, is impacted by cheap booze, easily accessible and our drink culture.

In the eighties, it became clear that it was time to stub out the cigarettes in places of business, entertainment and especially, at home, in front of our children. The secondary effects of consistent heavy drinking are well known and unacceptable in a caring, forward thinking society.

Let's call time on this nasty booze habit. Who's up for a child-friendly celebration of abstinence and a better society down our local Sobar?

Comments

CONVERSATIONS